By:   Michael A. Winkleman

international-arbitration-lawyersSince 1971, the law firm of Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. has fought for the rights of those injured at sea.  In more recent times, the use of international commercial arbitration dispute resolution clauses has become incredibly commonplace in most, if not all, contracts, including employment contracts. With the growth of international arbitration disputes, so too has grown a unique practice within our firm designed specifically to handle international arbitrations.  

Our recent results speak for themselves:  

+$970,000 award plus lifetime maintenance and cure to a waiter/crewmember of a major cruise line; 

+$440,000 award plus continued medical care to a stateroom attendant/crewmember of a major cruise line

Furthermore, we have successfully handled hundreds of international commercial arbitrations under a variety of different laws, including, but not limited to the laws of: Panama, Bahamas, Bermuda, Malta, Great Britain, Norway, Germany and the Philippines, just to name a few.  

As the global economy increases in complexity, so does the complexity of international maritime disputes. International maritime arbitration can be very difficult to navigate, and as a result, requires a high level of experience and skill in order to implement the most effective strategy possible.

The team of lawyers with Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. have both the experience and skill necessary to handle the unique aspects of international maritime arbitration. Our team members can assist you in all aspects of your dispute. We know how to navigate the complexities of cross-border commercial disputes and we regularly represent clients in front of many of the leading international arbitration bodies. These include the American Arbitration Association (AAA), International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR), National Arbitration and Mediation (NAM) and many others.

Please contact LM&W, P.A. if you would like more information on our international maritime arbitration services. You can use our online form or call (877) 233-1238.  As always, our consultation is free and we work on a contingency fee basis which means we don’t get paid unless we obtain a successful financial recovery.  

What Is International Arbitration?

International arbitration is basically a dispute between parties in two different countries – it is one of the most commonly used types of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR. This arbitration system does not fall under the authority of any particular nation, yet it is recognized by both international and national law.

The most frequent type of international arbitration we see is in the employment context.  That is, a maritime employer places an arbitration clause in a contract of employment.  These arbitration clauses effectively force an employee to resolve their dispute through international arbitration, rather than in a court of law.  

These arbitration clauses most often operate in tandem with a choice of law clause.  As such, a maritime employee will often be forced to handle their claims in an international arbitration under foreign law.  

While this may sound like a daunting process (which it can be), we are experts in handling precisely this type of action and we have successfully handled hundreds of international arbitrations.  Let us put our experience to work for you so that we can help you navigate the process of international arbitration.  

There are many advantages to working with a skilled international arbitration lawyer like those at Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A.   An experienced and skilled attorney acts as your advocate to put a client in the strongest possible position to prevail in the dispute. There are also benefits to the arbitration process itself, including the following:

  • Speed and efficiency 
  • Ease of award enforcement
  • Privacy
  • Procedural flexibility
  • Neutrality
  • The ability to choose who will decide the outcome of the dispute

In order to gain the best possible understanding of how international arbitration works, it will be important to get an idea of some of the key concepts behind this form of dispute resolution. Here are just a few of those concepts.

  • The arbitration seat – This is where the arbitration will be located, or “seated.” The parties in the dispute will typically specify a city, such as Paris or London, where the arbitration will take place.  We routinely handle arbitrations that are seated literally around the Globe from Paris to Panama to Bermuda to London.  You name it, we can handle it.  
  • Legislative considerations – Even though most countries have laws governing arbitration cases, these laws do not take the place of the procedural rules that the parties in the dispute choose to follow. The laws merely provide a framework regarding the rules. They may also help to fill in any gaps that may be present in those rules. Most of these laws are based on the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration from UNCITRAL (The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law).
  • Enforcement – The seat of the award will determine its “nationality,” so to speak. For example, if the dispute is heard in London, then the dispute will be considered to be English – as will the award. This is important in regard to enforcement, because the country where the arbitration is held must have ratified the New York Convention. This is a treaty agreed to by more than 160 countries that allows for reciprocal arbitration enforcement. If the arbitration was held in a country that is not part of the treaty, the award could potentially be overturned.  In our vast experience, enforcement of arbitration awards is most often successful.  

International Arbitration Process

The following is a brief look at how the international arbitration process typically works.

  • Arbitration clauses contained in contracts or agreements are the first place to start the analysis.  As the clause itself will typically contain key components of how the case will proceed, such as the seat and language, choice of law, the number of arbitrators, and the rules the arbitration will follow. It will be very important to have an international arbitration lawyer carefully look over any and all written agreements to determine whether the agreement is enforceable.  In some limited circumstances, you may be able to invalidate the arbitration agreement and thereby avoid arbitration.   
  • There will be either one or three arbitrators appointed to rule on the dispute. When one arbitrator is appointed, and the two parties can’t agree on who that person should be, then a designated appointing authority will most often decide. When three arbitrators are designated, each party will nominate one. The two arbitrators will then nominate the third. The arbitrators are known as the “arbitration tribunal.”
  • The tribunal has one primary responsibility – to efficiently and fairly determine the outcome of the dispute. It will also adopt the procedures for the case, and work to save both time and money. 
  • The specific procedures can vary. However, in general, the parties involved in the dispute will present their cases, along with any expert and/or factual evidence they can produce. The claimant’s presentation is often known as the “Memorial.” The defense’s presentation is known as the “Defense Memorial.”  Instead of a trial, most cases are argued at what is known as a “Final Hearing.”
  • Some arbitration institutions, such as the International Court of Arbitration at the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) require evidence and legal submissions to be provided at the same time. Others require both parties to exchange submissions and then evidence.  

How Are International Disputes Resolved?

Once all evidence is presented and arguments conclude, the matter then goes to the tribunal for a decision. The tribunal will then determine the award, and also provide its reasoning behind that decision. Each tribunal member will sign a document outlining the reasoning.

The award in an international arbitration is similar to a litigation judgment in that it is considered to be final and binding. It cannot usually be challenged, except in certain extremely limited circumstances. For example, serious irregularities must be uncovered regarding the proceeding, the award, or the tribunal. If, for instance, the award is determined to be fraudulent, or the tribunal did not conduct proceedings according to the agreed procedure, then the award could be challenged.  Generally speaking, most arbitration awards are enforced and not changed on appeal.  Thus, while there are typically rights to appeal an arbitration award, they are only successful in extremely limited cases.  

Contact Experienced International Arbitration Lawyers

The experts with LM&W, P.A. have a long track record of success representing clients in international maritime arbitration disputes. We have handled arbitration cases in the U.S., London, Paris, Bahamas, Panama, Bermuda, and many other locations. Our lawyers are known worldwide for their compassion and integrity, as well as their excellence. U.S. News & World Report named our firm 2020 Lawyer of the Year in Admiralty and Maritime.

Put our experience and skill to work for you. Learn more about how LM&W, P.A. may be able to help by using our online contact form or calling (877) 233-1238